Looks like there may be good news in the fight against breast cancer. New research suggests that an existing drug might be able to halve the risk faced by post-menopausal women, especially those with a strong family history of breast cancer.
Anastrozole is a medication used to stave off breast cancer recurrence for post-menopausal women who’ve experienced the disease. The research from Queen Mary University of London, lead by Dr. Jack Cuzick, head of Cancer Research of the U.K.’s Center for Cancer Prevention, found that a daily intake of the Anastrazole pill can help to reduce breast cancer incidents in women by more than 53%, and with very little side effects.
Dr Cuzick and his team studied more than 3800 women in 18 countries, all of whom had a strong family history of the disease. “The biggest surprise of our study was that the side effects were less than expected,” Cuzick said.
Anastrazole isn’t the first drug used to prevent breast cancer in women with high risk of the disease. Drugs like Tamoxifen and Raloxifine are commonly prescribed, however, these medicines were reported to increase the risk of blood clots, stroke and other cancers. Some of the side effects that come with Anastrazole include hot flashes and joint pain – side effects that aren’t as severe or untreatable.
Many medical professionals find that the use of the drug seemed promising.
“We need to raise awareness that medications to prevent cancer exist,” Dr. Angel Rodriguez, a breast cancer doctor at Houston’s Methodist Cancer Center said. “It is vastly underutilized in the world. This study further validates their safety – a major concern for most prescribers.”
However, some doctors feel that some patients may not be willing to endure the side effects of the drug. “Asking women to take a daily pill to prevent breast cancer is a hard sell, particularly when there is an undertow of other concerns that arise with taking the pill,” said Dr. Michael Fisch, chair of medical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.